2011-05-26 / Front Page

Damascus Church To Host 75th Annual Memorial Day Service

Sen. Eichelberger to be guest speaker
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Special music and a keynote speaker will be among the highlights of the 75th annual Memorial Day Service set for this Sunday afternoon at the Damascus Cemetery.

Organized by the Cemetery Association and President Robert Swadley, the event will kick off at 2 p.m. on May 29 with congregational singing, special music by the Sanders Sisters and a message of welcome by Sen. John Eichelberger Jr. of the 30th Senatorial District.

The 75th service will be dedicated to the officers and directors, who through their efforts have made the Damascus Cemetery a “beautiful place of sacred memories.” Those specifically referenced by the cemetery’s historians as being instrumental in these efforts are Bruce Douglas, O.E. Litton, H.J. Comerer, Ray W. Weller, T.M. James, Lewis Gordon, Jacob Douglas, A.B. Gordon, S.L. Simpson, W.E. Booth, Thomas Gregory, George A. Winters, John Culler, Stanley Funk, Harold W. Douglas, Harold Winters, Clarence Bain, Homer M. Litton, Paul Johnson, Henry Gordon, William Pittman, Calvin Comerer and Cecil Gregory.

A historical booklet prepared for distribution during the Memorial Day Service indicates on August 11, 1936, approximately 19 members of the community gathered at Damascus Church to ascertain how the existing cemetery could be properly maintained. A decision was made at that time to incorporate and apply for a charter. Officers also elected at the meeting were President Harvey Gregory, Treasurer O.E. Litton and Secretary Bruce Douglas.

History further maintains Cemetery Association Board of Director George Winters was responsible for selling the newly created association land at a rate of $150 per half acre. Projects immediately overseen by the association included the installation of a fence to enclose the cemetery.

In 1968, the association purchased an additional one-half acre of property from Harold Winters. A short five years later, a road was constructed in the cemetery with equipment and help from Paul Johnson.

Changes, however, were plentiful in the 1980s when another one-half acre was bought from Lena Winters in 1984. History notes the following year tragedy struck the association when their only secretary, Bruce Douglas, passed away.

“Thanks to the efforts of Bruce and his wife, Amy, the association has kept some of the best records that any organization could have. “Bruce’s opinions were respected by every member, and his guidance always appreciated,” the booklet stated. “To compound difficulties, the board also lost one of their original directors, Thomas Gregory. Tom’s opinions as a director were respected by the other directors, and he could always be counted on for any work detail. Both men served the association for 49 years.”

“As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, the officers and directors face the challenge of finding support to maintain the legacy we have inherited,” Swadley concluded.

Swadley is assisted at this time by fellow officers Secretary Ernest Shives and Treasurer Lester Litton. The Cemetery Association Board of Directors cur- rently consists of Marvin Douglas, M. Dean Douglas, Ross Gordon, David Gregory, Richard Grove, Lee Johnson, Paul Johnson Jr., Austin McKee III, Mc- Cauley Miller and Carl Younker.

Lunch will be served at noon in the church’s social room for those in attendance. The public is welcome to attend.

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